18 Tourist Attractions in Okinawa: Swim, Sunbathe, & Surf (2024)

About Okinawa

Okinawa, an enchanting island chain in Japan, offers a captivating blend of cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and natural beauty. A destination known for its distinct Ryukyuan culture, Okinawa offers stunning sites like Shurijo Castle, immaculate beaches, and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium’s vivid marine life. Visitors can also explore sacred sites, lush jungles, and traditional villages while enjoying warm hospitality and delicious local cuisine. With its rich history and scenic landscapes, Okinawa is a must-visit destination for an unforgettable experience.

Geography and Climate


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Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, consists of around 160 islands scattered across the East China Sea. The largest is Okinawa Island, where the capital, Naha, is located. The archipelago is a component of the Ryukyu Islands, well-known for its lush subtropical forests, white sand beaches, and coral reefs. Okinawa’s diverse geography includes mountains, coastal plains, and numerous small islands, each with a unique landscape and charm.


Okinawa’s subtropical climate features hot, humid summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures exceed 30°C, while winter temperatures rarely drop below 15°C. The area is prone to typhoons between July and October and has a wet season from May to June. The warm climate supports lush vegetation and vibrant marine life, making Okinawa a year-round destination for outdoor activities.

18 Tourist Attractions in Okinawa: Swim, Sunbathe, & Surf (1)

Top Tourist Attractions in Okinawa

Given below are the top tourist attractions in Okinawa:

1. Southeast Botanical Gardens – Botanical Garden

The Southeast Botanical Gardens in Okinawa is a lush paradise showcasing diverse tropical and subtropical flora. The gardens, spanning over 100 acres, feature various plant species, including rare and exotic varieties. Visitors can explore beautifully landscaped areas, serene ponds, and themed gardens highlighting Okinawa’s rich biodiversity. With attractions like the Palm Garden, Water Lily Pond, and various walking trails, the Southeast Botanical Gardens offer a tranquil and educational experience for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

Location: Located in Okinawa City, the Southeast Botanical Gardens is central to Okinawa Island, making it easily accessible from major tourist areas such as Naha and Chatan.

Must-See Attractions

  • Tropical Plant Collection: Explore various tropical and subtropical plants, including palms, orchids, and exotic flowers.
  • Water Lily Pond: A picturesque pond with colorful lilies and lush greenery.
  • Petting Zoo: A family-friendly location where guests can have animal interactions with capybaras, goats, and rabbits.

Best Time to Visit: When the weather is pleasant and many plants are in full bloom, spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are the ideal times to visit the Southeast Botanical Gardens. Because of the pleasant temperatures and lower humidity throughout certain seasons, the overall experience is better.

Things to Do

  • Guided Tours: Take a guided walk to discover the ecological value of the garden and its varied plant types.
  • Photography: Capture stunning photos of the vibrant flowers, scenic landscapes, and tranquil ponds.
  • Cultural Exhibits: Experience traditional Okinawan culture through various exhibits and workshops.

2. American Village – Tourist Attraction

Okinawa’s American Village, a vibrant entertainment and shopping district, is a unique fusion of Okinawan charm and Western influences inspired by American culture. Nestled in Chatan, it’s a captivating blend that draws locals and tourists, offering a lively atmosphere, colorful buildings, and diverse attractions.

Location: American Village is in Chatan Town, central Okinawa, approximately 20 kilometers north of Naha, the capital city. It is easily accessible by car or public transport.

Must-See Attractions

  • Mihama Ferris Wheel: It provides breathtaking views of the surroundings, which are particularly lovely at dusk and dawn.
  • Sunset Beach: A picturesque beach perfect for relaxation and enjoying the sunset.
  • Depot Island: A shopping and dining complex with various stores, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Bokunen Art Museum: Featuring the works of the renowned Okinawan artist and engraver Bokunen Naka.

Best Time to Visit: For a delightful experience, plan your visit to American Village during the spring (March to May) and autumn (October to November). These seasons offer pleasant weather, perfect for outdoor activities. But the real magic happens in the evenings, when the village comes alive with vibrant nightlife and illuminated attractions, creating an atmosphere that will enchant you.

Things to Do

  • Shopping: Explore various shops offering a mix of American brands, local crafts, and unique souvenirs.
  • Dining: Enjoy multiple cuisines, from American-style diners to Okinawan specialty restaurants.
  • Entertainment: Visit the Mihama 7 Plex cinema for the latest movies, or try out the game arcades and karaoke bars.

3. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium – Aquarium

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is one of the world’s largest and most renowned aquariums. Situated within the Ocean Expo Park, it offers visitors an incredible glimpse into the diverse marine life of Okinawa and the surrounding waters. The aquarium is famed for its vast tanks, innovative exhibits, and efforts in marine conservation.

Location: The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is in Motobu Town, in the northern region of Okinawa Island. It is located around ninety kilometers from Naha, the capital, and is a part of the larger Ocean Expo Park complex.

Must-See Attractions

  • Kuroshio Sea Tank: The main tank, one of the largest in the world, houses whale sharks, manta rays, and various other large fish species.
  • Coral Sea Tank: Features over 800 colonies of living coral, showcasing the vibrant reef ecosystems.
  • Deep Sea Exhibit: Displays the unique and mysterious creatures in the deep waters around Okinawa.
  • Dolphin Lagoon: Offers daily dolphin shows and interactive experiences with dolphins.

Best Time to Visit: Weekdays are the ideal times to visit Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, as opposed to the busiest travel periods (summer holidays in July and August and Golden Week in late April to early May). You can escape the heavier crowds by going early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Things to Do

  • Explore the Exhibits: Visit the exhibits and tanks to learn more about the many marine animals.
  • Attend Shows: Watch the dolphin shows at the Dolphin Lagoon and the feeding sessions at the Kuroshio Sea Tank.
  • Interactive Programs: Engage in activities like the touch pool, where you may pet sea cucumbers and starfish.

4. Shuri Castle – Castle

Shuri Castle was the Ryukyu Kingdom’s royal residence and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a symbol of Okinawa’s rich cultural heritage and historical significance. With its distinctive Ryukyuan architecture, the castle blends Chinese and Japanese influences, reflecting the kingdom’s historical connections with neighboring regions.

Location: Shuri Castle is in the Shuri district of Naha, the capital city of Okinawa. It is easily accessible by public transportation, about 15 minutes by monorail from central Naha.

Must-See Attractions

  • Hokuden (North Hall): Houses exhibit about the Ryukyu Kingdom’s history and culture.
  • Nanden (South Hall): Features displays related to the kingdom’s diplomatic and trading activities.
  • Shureimon Gate: The iconic gate at the castle’s entrance is an important cultural symbol.

Best Time to Visit: March through May in the spring and October through November in the fall offer ideal weather for touring the outside sections of Shuri Castle. Early morning or late afternoon visits may provide a more sedate and less crowded experience.

Things to Do

  • Explore the Castle Grounds: Walk through the historic gates, walls, and buildings to appreciate the architecture and history.
  • Visit the Exhibitions: Learn about the Ryukyu Kingdom through the various exhibits in the North and South Halls.
  • Cultural Performances: Occasionally, watch traditional Ryukyuan dance and music performances held on the castle grounds.

5. Cape Manzamo – Scenic Point

Cape Manzamo, a serene and picturesque cliff on the west coast of Okinawa Island, is a haven of tranquility. It’s renowned for its breathtaking ocean views and unique limestone formations. “Manzamo” means “a field for 10,000 to sit,” a testament to the expansive grassy area atop the cliff. This location is well-liked by residents and visitors since it provides a tranquil haven to take in the breathtaking scenery and sunsets.

Location: Cape Manzamo, a gem in Onna Village, is conveniently located about 50 kilometers north of Naha, the capital city of Okinawa. It’s easily accessible by car or bus along the scenic Route 58, ensuring a stress-free journey to this breathtaking destination.

Must-See Attractions

  • Limestone Cliff: The distinctive elephant trunk-shaped rock formation carved by the ocean waves.
  • Grassy Field: The sizeable grassy area atop the cliff is ideal for picnics and leisurely walks.
  • Rocky Coastline: The rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters below the cliff offer great photo opportunities.

Best Time to Visit: The afternoon is the ideal time to visit Cape Manzano for a breathtaking sunset. Although the most pleasant weather occurs in the spring (March to May) and autumn (October to November), thanks to Okinawa’s mild climate, you can enjoy the cape year-round.

Things to Do

  • Photography: Capture the dramatic landscape and beautiful seascapes, especially during sunset.
  • Leisure Walks: Stroll along the pathways and enjoy the fresh sea breeze and panoramic views.
  • Snorkeling and Diving: See the rich marine life in the pristine waters near the cape on one of the numerous guided cruises.

6. Kouri Bridge View Point – Observation Deck

The Kouri Bridge View Point offers stunning panoramic views of the renowned Kouri Bridge, which spans Okinawa’s main island and connects the gorgeous Kouri Island. This hilltop observation platform provides the perfect vantage point to take in the azure waters of the East China Sea and the neighboring islands, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

Location: Situated on Okinawa’s main island, near the northern end of Kouri Island, the Kouri Bridge View Point is accessible via the Kouri Bridge. It can be easily reached by car or public transportation.

Must-See Attractions

  • East China Sea: Enjoy panoramic vistas of the vast expanse of the East China Sea, with its shimmering blue waters and scattered islands.
  • Sunset Views: Witness spectacular sunsets painting the sky with vibrant hues, creating a mesmerizing ambiance.
  • Surrounding Islands: Take in the beauty of neighboring islands such as Yagaji and Sesoko, enhancing the scenic panorama.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the Kouri Bridge View Point is late afternoon to catch the enchanting sunset over the ocean. Weekdays and early mornings are ideal for a quieter experience, avoiding crowds and enjoying the serene atmosphere.

Things to Do

  • Photography: Capture stunning photographs of the Kouri Bridge and the scenic landscape from various angles.
  • Picnicking: Pack a picnic basket to enjoy a leisurely dinner and the expansive vistas.
  • Scenic Drive: Enjoy a picturesque drive across the Kouri Bridge to explore Kouri Island’s pristine beaches and attractions.

7. Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park – Park and Garden

The Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park is a sprawling recreational facility in Okinawa, Japan, offering various sports and leisure activities. It has over 1,000 hectares and features extensive green spaces, sports fields, tracks, and courts for various athletic pursuits. The park is ideal for sports enthusiasts, families, and visitors seeking outdoor recreation and relaxation amidst scenic surroundings.

Location: Located in the southern part of Okinawa Island, the Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park is in the town of Higashi. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation, approximately 30 kilometers northeast of Naha, the capital city of Okinawa.

Must-See Attractions

  • Athletic Facilities: Explore the various sports facilities available, including baseball fields, soccer pitches, tennis courts, and running tracks.
  • Botanical Garden: Wander through the park’s botanical garden, featuring diverse indigenous and exotic plant species.
  • Central Fountain Plaza: Relax at the central Fountain Plaza, a popular spot for picnics, strolls, and outdoor gatherings.

Best Time to Visit: Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park is best visited in the cooler months of spring (March to May) and fall (October to November), when the weather is nice and appropriate for outdoor activities. The best times to avoid the midday heat and crowds are early and late afternoons.

Things to Do

  • Sports Activities: The park’s well-maintained facilities offer various sports, such as baseball, soccer, tennis, jogging, or cycling.
  • Nature Walks: Explore the park’s walking trails and immerse yourself in nature, birdwatching and spotting local flora and fauna.
  • Botanical Garden Exploration: The botanical garden is perfect for nature and photography enthusiasts, offering a diverse collection of plant species.

8. Makishi Public Market – Market

Naha, Okinawa’s Makishi Public Market, is a hive of regional cuisine and culture. Its origins date back to the years following World War II and provide a genuine window into Okinawa’s dynamic culinary landscape. At booths, visitors can peruse fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and traditional Okinawan specialties. Due to its vibrant atmosphere and wide range of items, the market is a must-visit location for foodies and cultural explorers.

Location: In Naha’s bustling Kokusai Dori (International Street) district, Makishi Public Market is easily accessible by foot, taxi, or public transportation.

Must-See Attractions

  • Fresh Seafood Stalls: Explore the numerous stalls selling abundant fresh fish, shellfish, and seafood delicacies.
  • Local Produce: Browse colorful displays of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and spices, offering a taste of Okinawa’s agricultural bounty.
  • Food Stalls and Eateries: Sample traditional Okinawan dishes like sashimi, tempura, and sushi at the market’s various food stalls and eateries.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Makishi Public Market is in the morning, when it is bustling with activity and vendors showcase their freshest produce and catches. Weekends are typically busier than weekdays, making for a more leisurely shopping experience.

Things to Do

  • Shop for Souvenirs: Purchase authentic Okinawan gifts, such as local snacks, spices, pottery, and textiles, to take home.
  • Savor Local Cuisine: Taste traditional Okinawan cuisine with delicacies like Rafute (braised pork belly) and goya champuru (bitter melon stir-fry).
  • Explore Nearby Attractions: Stroll along Kokusai Dori to explore shops, cafes, and historic sites like Shijo Hondori.

9. Katsuren Castle Ruins – Historical Landmark

The Katsuren Castle Ruins in Uruma City best represent the rich historical and cultural legacy of Okinawa Island. These fascinating artifacts from the fifteenth century transport me back to the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom. For those interested in learning more about Okinawa’s past and history, the castle site is a popular destination due to its hilltop location and vast views of the surrounding area.

Location: Located in Uruma City, on the eastern coast of Okinawa Island, Katsuren Castle Ruins are easily accessible by car or public transportation. It’s approximately 50 kilometers northeast of Naha, the capital city.

Must-See Attractions

  • Main Gate (Katsuren-ō-i): Impressively preserved stone gate showcasing the castle’s grandeur.
  • Stone Walls: Remnants of fortified stone walls offering insight into the castle’s defensive architecture.
  • Historical Signage: Informational signs detailing the history and significance of the castle ruins.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Katsuren Castle Ruins is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (October to November) when the weather is mild and comfortable for exploring outdoor sites. Consider going early in the day to avoid crowds and get the most out of your visit.

Things to Do

  • Explore the Ruins: Wander through the ancient stone structures and imagine life in the Ryukyu Kingdom.
  • Hiking: Take a leisurely hike along the trails surrounding the castle ruins for additional scenic views and nature exploration.
  • Visit Nearby Attractions: Explore other nearby attractions, such as Uruma Castle Ruins and the scenic beaches of Uruma City.

10. Neo Park Okinawa – Zoo

Neo Park Okinawa, located in Nago City, Okinawa, is a captivating zoo and botanical garden spanning 22 hectares. Dedicated to conservation and education, it offers visitors an immersive experience with diverse wildlife and lush flora. Explore animal habitats housing capybaras, kangaroos, and more alongside vibrant botanical gardens showcasing tropical plants and rare flowers. Neo Park Okinawa is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and families alike.

Location: Neo Park Okinawa is in Nago City, in the northern part of Okinawa Island. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation, approximately a 90-minute drive from Naha, the capital city of Okinawa.

Must-See Attractions

  • Animal Encounters: You can encounter a wide array of animals, including capybaras, flamingos, kangaroos, and more, in their naturalistic habitats.
  • Botanical Gardens: Wander through beautifully landscaped gardens featuring exotic plants, orchids, and colorful flowers.
  • Butterfly House: Immerse yourself in a world of fluttering butterflies amidst lush greenery.
  • Penguin Pool: Watch playful penguins swim and frolic in their specially designed pool area.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Neo Park Okinawa is during the mild seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (October to November), when the weather is pleasant for outdoor exploration. Weekdays generally have fewer crowds than weekends and holidays, providing a more tranquil experience.

Things to Do

  • Animal Feeding: Participate in feeding sessions to interact with some animals and learn about their behaviors.
  • Educational Programs: Attend informative talks and demonstrations by knowledgeable zookeepers and botanists.
  • Picnicking: Enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the serene surroundings of the botanical gardens.

11. Nakagusuku Castle Ruins – Historical Place

Nestled in Nakagusuku Village, Okinawa, the Nakagusuku Castle Ruins are a tribute to the island’s rich cultural legacy and history. These 14th-century remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom provide an intriguing window into that age. History lovers and travelers interested in Okinawa’s past are drawn to the castle site because it offers a high location and vast views of its environs.

Location: Nakagusuku Castle Ruins are in Nakagusuku Village, on central Okinawa Island. They are approximately 20 kilometers northeast of Naha, the capital city, and easily accessible by car or public transportation.

Must-See Attractions

  • Main Courtyard: Explore the central area of the castle ruins, featuring stone walls and remnants of structures from the Ryukyu Kingdom period.
  • East and West Courtyards: Discover additional sections of the castle site, offering scenic views and historical insights.
  • Scenic Overlook: Climb to the highest points of the ruins for panoramic vistas of Nakagusuku Village and the surrounding landscape.

Best Time to Visit: The milder months of spring (March to May) and autumn (October to November) are the ideal times to explore Nakagusuku Castle Ruins because of the pleasant weather that makes outdoor exploring possible. Weekends are usually busier than weekdays, making for a more peaceful experience.

Things to Do

  • Historical Exploration: Wander through the castle ruins and immerse yourself in Okinawa’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Photography: Capture stunning shots of the ancient stone walls, scenic vistas, and natural beauty.
  • Nature Walks: Enjoy leisurely walks along the castle site’s trails, admiring the lush vegetation and serene ambiance.

12. Wonder Museum – Museum

The Wonder Museum in Okinawa is a fascinating attraction that offers a blend of art, science, and technology. Investigate immersive installations, optical illusions, and interactive displays for an entertaining and educational experience for all ages. With its diverse range of displays and hands-on activities, the museum sparks curiosity and wonder in its visitors.

Location: The Wonder Museum is in Naha, the capital of Okinawa. It is near popular tourist destinations and easily accessible by public transportation or car.

Must-See Attractions

  • Interactive Exhibits: Engage with various interactive displays that showcase scientific principles, optical illusions, and artistic creations.
  • 3D Art Gallery: Explore a collection of mind-bending 3D artworks that create optical illusions and trick the eye.
  • Mirrored Rooms: Step into mirrored rooms and immersive installations that play with light, reflection, and perception.
  • Virtual Reality Zone: Experience virtual reality simulations and innovative technology transporting you to different worlds.
  • Art Installations: Admire unique art installations and sculptures by local and international artists.

Best Time to Visit: You can visit the Wonder Museum all year round, but weekends and holidays are busier than weekdays. To avoid large crowds, consider visiting during the morning or late afternoon. The museum is also an excellent option for indoor activities during rainy or hot weather.

Things to Do

  • Interactive Exploration: Explore and interact with the exhibits to discover fascinating scientific concepts and artistic creations.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture memorable moments with captivating exhibits and 3D artworks, perfect for sharing on social media.
  • Educational Experience: Learn about the principles of light, color, perspective, and technology through hands-on experimentation.
  • Family Fun: Take part in a fun-filled day of family-friendly events with kid- and adult-friendly activities.

13. Koza Sports Park – Park and Garden

Koza Sports Park, situated in Okinawa City, is a sprawling recreational area catering to sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. Spanning over hectares, it offers a variety of facilities for outdoor activities, strolls, and picnics. With its lush greenery, jogging tracks, and sports fields, the park provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Location: Situated in the center of Okinawa City, Koza Sports Park is a popular destination on the island. Both locals and visitors will find it a convenient site due to its easy accessibility by automobile or public transportation.

Must-See Attractions

  • Sports Facilities: Explore a range of sports facilities, including baseball fields, soccer pitches, tennis courts, and basketball courts.
  • Jogging Tracks: Take a leisurely jog or brisk walk along the park’s well-maintained jogging tracks, surrounded by scenic greenery.
  • Playgrounds: Let children enjoy the playground areas with swings, slides, and climbing structures.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Koza Sports Park is during the cooler months of spring (March to May) and autumn (October to November) when the weather is mild and pleasant. Mornings and late afternoons are ideal for outdoor activities, avoiding the midday heat.

Things to Do

  • Sports and Recreation: Play various sports, including basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis.
  • Picnicking: With designated picnic spots available, pack a picnic basket and enjoy lunch in the park’s peaceful surroundings.
  • Nature Walks: Stroll the park’s trails at your leisure and take in the sights and sounds of nature.

14. Peace Memorial Park – Memorial Park

Okinawa’s Peace Memorial Park, which is in Itoman City, serves as a sad reminder of the terrible toll that the Battle of Okinawa took during World War II. This solemn site honors the memory of the thousands who perished and serves as a beacon for peace and reconciliation. Visitors can pay their respects at various memorial monuments, explore museum exhibits detailing the war’s impact, and find solace amidst the park’s serene gardens, fostering reflection and remembrance.

Location: Peace Memorial Park is in Itoman City, on the southern tip of Okinawa Island. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation from Naha, the capital city.

Must-See Attractions

  • Peace Memorial Museum: Offers insightful exhibits and artifacts related to the Battle of Okinawa, providing historical context and personal stories.
  • Himeyuri Peace Museum: Paying tribute to the experiences and giving made during the war by the Himeyuri Student Corps.
  • Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum: Features interactive displays and multimedia presentations highlighting the impact of war on Okinawan society.

Best Time to Visit: For the best experience, visit Peace Memorial Park during the mild and comfortable spring weather (March to May) and autumn (October to November). Additionally, to enjoy a more tranquil atmosphere and avoid crowds, consider visiting during off-peak hours.

Things to Do

  • Reflect and Pay Respect: Take a moment of silence to honor the memory of those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa.
  • Visit Memorial Monuments: Explore the various monuments and memorials scattered throughout the park, each representing different aspects of the war and its aftermath.
  • Learn at Museums: Visit the Peace Memorial Museum and other educational facilities to gain insights into Okinawa’s wartime history.

15. Naminoue Shrine – Shinto Shrine

Naminoue Shrine, majestically perched atop a cliff, gazes out over the serene turquoise waters of the East China Sea. This revered Shinto shrine, whose origins date back to the 14th century, holds profound cultural and spiritual importance for the locals. As a visitor, you can’t help but be captivated by its striking architecture, offer prayers for good fortune, and feel humbled by the panoramic views of the ocean and cityscape.

Location: Naminoue Shrine is in Naha, the vibrant capital city of Okinawa, near the coastline that overlooks the East China Sea. Its proximity to the city center makes it easily accessible, whether using public transportation or driving your car.

Must-See Attractions

  • Main Hall (Honden): Admire the architectural beauty of the shrine’s main hall, which houses the enshrined deity.
  • Ocean Views: The shrine’s perched position atop a cliff provides an extensive vantage point over the East China Sea.
  • Holy Trees: Explore the shrine grounds and marvel at the ancient trees, which are considered sacred in Shinto belief.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Naminoue Shrine is during traditional Shinto festivals, such as New Year’s Day (January 1st) or Hatsumode (the first shrine visit), when the shrine is adorned with decorations and bustling with worshippers. Additionally, the sunset offers a breathtaking backdrop for the shrine’s serene ambiance.

Things to Do

  • Pay Respect: Participate in traditional rituals by offering prayers and making offerings at the shrine’s altar.
  • Enjoy Scenic Views: Take leisurely walks around the shrine grounds and enjoy the picturesque views of the ocean and coastline.
  • Photography: Capture memorable moments of the shrine’s architecture, torii gate, and natural surroundings.

16. Bios Hill – Theme Park

Bios Hill, nestled in the lush hills of Nago City, is a captivating theme park celebrating Okinawa’s natural beauty and biodiversity. Spanning over hectares, it offers a unique entertainment, education, and outdoor exploration blend. Visitors can immerse themselves in interactive exhibits, scenic trails, and thrilling attractions, making it a must-visit destination for families and nature enthusiasts.

Location: Bios Hill is in Nago City, in the northern part of Okinawa Island. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation and is approximately a one-hour drive from Naha, the capital city.

Must-See Attractions

  • Botanical Gardens: Explore diverse ecosystems and tropical flora worldwide, including rare and endangered plant species.
  • Butterfly Garden: Wander through a magical world of butterflies amidst colorful flowers and lush greenery.
  • Animal Encounters: Interact with animals such as goats, sheep, and rabbits at the petting zoo.

Best Time to Visit: Spring (March to May) and fall (October to November) are the ideal seasons to visit Bios Hill because of the pleasant, outdoor-friendly weather. Weekdays are usually less crowded than weekends and holidays, providing a more relaxed atmosphere.

Things to Do

  • Educational Exhibits: Learn about ecology, conservation, and sustainability through interactive exhibits and educational programs.
  • Nature Walks: Take leisurely walks along scenic trails, discovering hidden waterfalls, streams, and wildlife.
  • Picnicking: Enjoy a picnic amidst the park’s picturesque surroundings, with designated picnic areas available.
  • Outdoor Dining: Savor local cuisine at the park’s restaurants and cafes, offering panoramic landscape views.

17. Zakimi Castle Ruins – Historical Place

Zakimi Castle Ruins, nestled in Yomitan Village, Okinawa, is a testament to the island’s rich history and cultural heritage. These ancient ruins, dating back to the 15th century, offer a captivating glimpse into the Ryukyu Kingdom era. Due to its hilltop location and expansive vistas, the castle site is a must-visit spot for history buffs and tourists interested in Okinawa’s past.

Location: Zakimi Castle Ruins are in Yomitan Village, on central Okinawa Island. They are approximately 30 kilometers northwest of Naha, the capital city, and easily accessible by car or public transportation.

Must-See Attractions

  • Main Courtyard: Explore the central area of the castle ruins, featuring stone walls and remnants of structures from the Ryukyu Kingdom period.
  • Tower Ruins: Admire the remains of the castle’s towers, offering scenic views and historical insights into the site’s strategic importance.
  • Gatehouses: Discover the gatehouses and defensive structures that once guarded the entrance to the castle complex.
  • Scenic Overlook: Climb to the highest points of the ruins for panoramic vistas of Yomitan Village and the surrounding coastline.

Best Time to Visit: The colder months of spring (March to May) and fall (October to November) are the ideal times of year to visit the Zakimi Castle Ruins because the weather is nice and suitable for outdoor exploration. Weekdays are typically less crowded and more tranquil than weekends.

Things to Do

  • Historical Exploration: Wander through the castle ruins and immerse yourself in Okinawa’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Photography: Capture stunning shots of the ancient stone walls, scenic vistas, and natural beauty.
  • Nature Walks: Enjoy the views and sounds of nature by taking leisurely walks around the trails that encircle the castle site.

18. Kurashiki Dam – Park and Garden

Kurashiki Dam, located in Kunigami Village, Okinawa, is a picturesque park and garden surrounding a serene reservoir. The dam area, built for water supply and flood control, offers visitors a tranquil escape amidst lush greenery and scenic landscapes. With chances for exploration, leisure, and relaxation, it’s the perfect place for nature lovers.

Location: Kurashiki Dam is in Kunigami Village, in the northern part of Okinawa Island. It is accessible by car and is approximately one hour from Naha, the capital city.

Must-See Attractions

  • Reservoir Scenery: Admire the serene waters of the reservoir surrounded by verdant forests and rolling hills.
  • Walking Trails: Explore walking trails that meander through the park, offering scenic views of the dam and surrounding landscapes.
  • Flora and Fauna: Discover the park’s diverse plant and animal species, including indigenous flora and migratory birds.

Best Time to Visit: The best times to visit Kurashiki Dam are during the milder spring (March to May) and fall (October to November) seasons, when the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities. Because weekends are typically busier than weekdays, they generally are more peaceful.

Things to Do

  • Nature Walks: Stroll along the park’s pathways and take in the sights and sounds of nature.
  • Photography: Capture stunning shots of the reservoir, forests, and wildlife, perfect for photography enthusiasts.
  • Birdwatching: Bring binoculars to observe the many bird species the park is home to.

Culinary Delights

Okinawan cuisine, influenced by its unique history and subtropical climate, offers a delightful array of culinary delights. Here are some notable dishes and specialties:

  • Goya Champuru: A signature dish of Okinawa, Goya Champuru is a stir-fry made with bitter melon (goya), tofu, egg, and various meats or fish. It’s a healthy and flavorful dish that reflects Okinawa’s emphasis on fresh ingredients and simple cooking.
  • Rafute: Rafute is a traditional Okinawan dish of braised pork belly simmered in soy sauce, sugar, and awamori (Okinawan liquor). The result is tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork with a sweet and savory flavor.
  • Soki Soba: In Okinawa, soki soba is a well-liked noodle dish. It has soft bits of braised pig ribs (soki) served with wheat noodles in a transparent broth. It’s typically served with green onions, red pickled ginger, and kamaboko (fish cakes) for added flavor and texture.
  • Umibudo: Umibudo, often called “sea grapes” or “green caviar,” is a seaweed that grows in the coastal waters of Okinawa. People appreciate its distinct texture and salty taste, frequently using it as a salad garnish or excellent appetizer.
  • Okinawan Sweets: Okinawa is known for its variety of traditional sweets and desserts, including Beni Imo Tart (sweet potato tart), Chinsuko (crumbly shortbread cookies), and Sata Andagi (Okinawan doughnuts). These treats showcase local ingredients like purple sweet potatoes and brown sugar.
  • Awamori: Awamori is a centuries-old distilled rice liquor unique to Okinawa. Made from Thai long-grain indica rice and aged in earthenware pots, It has a distinctive flavor and aroma. It’s often enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or as a co*cktail base.
  • Okinawa Soba: Unlike mainland Japanese soba noodles, Okinawa Soba features thicker wheat noodles served in a rich pork broth, topped with slices of stewed pork, green onions, and red pickled ginger. It’s a comforting and hearty dish enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Events and Festivals

Okinawa hosts various events and festivals annually, celebrating its rich cultural heritage, traditions, and natural beauty. Here are some notable events and festivals in Okinawa:

  • Naha Great Tug-of-War (October): Held during the annual Naha Otsunahiki Matsuri, this event features one of the largest tug-of-war competitions in the world. Thousands of participants come together to pull enormous ropes, symbolizing unity and prosperity.
  • Shurijo Castle Festival (October): Celebrating Shurijo Castle’s rich history, this festival features traditional Ryukyu dance performances, music, martial arts demonstrations, and cultural exhibits.
  • Hari Dragon Boat Race (May): Held in Itoman City, the Hari Dragon Boat Race is a thrilling competition where teams race traditional dragon boats in the azure waters of Okinawa’s southern coast.
  • Tsuboya Pottery Festival (November): Tsuboya Pottery District in Naha hosts this festival, showcasing the craftsmanship of local artisans and featuring pottery exhibitions, workshops, and sales.
  • Eisa Matsuri (August): Eisa Matsuri is a dynamic folk dance festival celebrated across Okinawa during the Obon season. Colorful parades, drum performances, and traditional dances fill the streets, honoring ancestors and welcoming their spirits.
  • Naha Haarii Dragon Boat Races (May): Another famous dragon boat race, the Naha Haarii, occurs in Naha City during the Golden Week holiday. Teams across Okinawa compete in spirited races accompanied by lively music and festivities.
  • Shuri Castle New Year’s Celebrations (January): Shuri Castle hosts traditional New Year’s celebrations, including ceremonies, rituals, and performances to welcome the start of the new year according to the lunar calendar.
  • Okinawa International Orchid Show (February): Held at Tropical Dream Center in Okinawa Expo Park, this show features stunning displays of orchids worldwide, along with workshops, lectures, and sales.

Recommended Articles

We hope this EDUCBA information on “Tourist Attractions in Okinawa” benefited you. You can view EDUCBA’s recommended articles for more information:

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18 Tourist Attractions in Okinawa: Swim, Sunbathe, & Surf (2024)


Can you swim in Okinawa beach? ›

Many of the beaches in the central and southern parts of Okinawa's main and outlying islands are swimming beaches with amenities for visitors, and some are open year-round.

Why is Okinawa so special? ›

Unique cuisine, amazing stargazing, diving and cherry blossoms are just some of the things that make the southernmost prefecture of Japan so special.

Is Okinawa good for tourists? ›

Okinawa is a welcoming and relaxed destination free from taxing social etiquette. Following a simple code of respect for the people you meet and places you visit is all you need for a pleasant and enjoyable Okinawa experience.

What is the most beautiful part of Okinawa? ›

One of the most visually stunning is Futamigaura Beach on Izena Island. A 55-minute ferry from the Okinawa Island, Futamigaura Beach features a painterly gradation of blue sea scape and panoramic vistas of Gusuku Mountain, towering rock formations, and Yanaha Island.

Does Okinawa have surfing? ›

Okinawa surf is warm-water fun in the very south of Japan. There are some epic breaks and there's swell virtually all year round. Barrels can go off on the reefs during typhoon surges. Other places have nice sandbar breaks for intermediates and learners.

What is Okinawa beach known for? ›

Okinawa is renowned for its crystal-clear waters that offer excellent visibility, making it a paradise for snorkeling, diving, and water-based activities.

Why do tourists go to Okinawa? ›

Explore the ruins and restored castles of the Ryukyu kings, and visit magnificent beaches and coastlines with an amazing array of coral and undersea life. Come for whale watching and dragon boat races, rare flora and fauna, and an island mindset that makes you forget the clock and follow the sun.

What is Okinawa popular for? ›

The islands that make up Japan's current Okinawa Prefecture are the result of a turbulent history that still comes into play to this day. Gaining popularity as a travel destination, Okinawa is a unique cultural hybrid and a tropical paradise of beaches and jungles, now easier than ever to access from mainland Japan.

Are Americans welcome in Okinawa? ›

Okinawa has a long history of international trade and diplomacy and continues to welcome people from all over the world. Champuru, meaning “to blend” or “fuse,” is an intrinsic value of the culture, and permeates many aspects of daily life.

Can you speak English in Okinawa? ›

Do people in Okinawa speak English? Japanese is the main language spoken in Okinawa, but some people can speak English, too. Most large hotels and tourist facilities have English-speaking staff or can provide assistance in English using multilingual information or communication tools.

Can you get around Okinawa without a car? ›

There are plenty of options when it comes to getting around Okinawa. On the main island, public transportation such as monorail, buses, and taxis make traveling between destinations quick and convenient.

Why is Okinawa so famous? ›

Okinawa was the site of the last big battle of World War II, the Battle of Okinawa. A lot of Okinawan people died during the battle. Now, the United States has some military bases for soldiers on the different islands of Okinawa. There are some symbols of this battle in Okinawa.

How many days in Okinawa is enough? ›

How Many Days Is Enough For Okinawa? If you're only planning on visiting mainland Okinawa, 3-5 days is a good amount of time to see the main sights and also get off the beaten path. I recommend staying for at least a week if you plan on island hopping in the Kerama or Yaeyama Islands.

Are Japan beaches safe to swim? ›

Swimmers should be aware that strong currents and poisonous marine life, such as jellyfish, are hazards at some beaches and inform themselves with up-to-date information before entering the water. Beachgoers should also keep the beaches clean and take their trash away with them.

How warm is the water in Okinawa? ›

Okinawa sea temperatures peak in the range 28 to 30°C (82 to 86°F) in mid July and are at their lowest in mid February, in the range 21 to 23°C (70 to 73°F). Year round warm ocean temperatures allow enjoyment of the Okinawa ocean for 12 months out of the year.

Is Okinawa beach warm? ›

Water temperatures around Okinawa Honto never drop below 20 degrees and reach about 30 degrees during the summer months.

Is the water clear in Okinawa? ›

Okinawa is surrounded by crystal-clear blue waters, and each island has an abundance of picture-perfect beaches to explore. Enjoy marine activities or just relax and watch the sunset on a beautiful white sand beach.

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